In recent times we have seen survivor tales of mothers (both lactating and pregnant) with their babies. The pressing question on safety of the foetus and mother has given sleepless nights to families across the world.
Experts suggest that the chances of spreading Coronavirus infection to the foetus from a positive mother are relatively rare although there are remote chances of an infection.
Scientists believe that there are chances of viruses that can cross the placenta and infect a foetus in the womb. There is evidence that Coronavirus cells also behave in similar fashion.
Latest medical research cites studies in Italy. An Italian research study on 31 women infected of COVID-19 having delivered babies in March and April found signs of traces of the virus in samples of umbilical cord blood, placenta and in one case - breast milk. But this sort of testing can just detect bits of genetic material — it doesn’t mean there is a virus capable of causing infection in those places.
In one case, there was strong evidence suggesting the newborn had the virus at birth because signs of it were found in umbilical cord blood and in the placenta. In another, a newborn had certain coronavirus antibodies that are unable to cross the placenta, so they could not have come from the mother.
Meanwhile, research led by the National Institutes of Health gives a possible reason for why fetuses aren’t infected more often: cells in the placenta rarely make the two tools that the coronavirus typically uses to gain entry. In contrast, they found plenty of what Zika and another type of virus use.
Most research so far has been on women who were in late stages of pregnancy when they got the virus; more research is needed on what happens if infection occurs earlier in pregnancy.
The advice to pregnant women remains the same: wear a mask in public, wash hands often and stay at least 6 feet away from others to avoid infection.
Disclaimer: The article has been edited with inputs from an AP story. Image has been attributed to Peter Hamlin for AP.